This past week I experienced problems with Starbucks’ mobile app. The subsequent follow-up through on their mobile helpline was horrendous. I now know the frustration volunteers experienced in Iowa with the Democratic Caucus, though I live in Idaho. I sat waiting 30 minutes to get a real person on the Starbucks phone line. During this period, I listened to terrible electronic music and a pleasant female voice would break in periodically and say, “Help will be available shortly”.
Here was my problem. The Starbucks app automatically downloaded $25 on Wednesday. On Thursday without being near a Starbucks my phone was reporting that I had $.67 and needed to reload. I was able to purchase two lattes for a friend and I during the Starbucks Thursday happy hour. I received a receipt saying I had $20.42 remaining, the correct amount. But my phone app continued to report $.67 available and direct me to add more funds. The Starbucks’ baristas told me to call the helpline but had no number. One barista told me that her mother’s Starbucks account had been hacked and she lost $60. The barista suggested I had been hacked and lost my money. She recommended that I change my password immediately.
Given the potential for hacking, I called the helpline as soon as I was home. Erin, the helpline assistant, was very pleasant but he had difficulty helping me also. He finally contacted his supervisor. I spent a total of 60 minutes on the helpline. Erin came back from visiting with his supervisor and told me I was locked out of my account following his advice. I was given a reference number and told to call back in 24 hours. I would need to go through the same phone triage and wait again. At which point, maybe someone else could help me.
I am pleased to let my readers know I solved the problem myself or more likely some anonymous person in Starbucks tech land fixed the glitch overnight. When I successfully logged in the next day, everything was working perfectly.
I now have great sympathy for the volunteers in the Iowa Democratic Caucus. We are increasingly dependent on technology. When an app doesn’t work correctly, we are dependent on anonymous voices stationed all over the world to help us.
I believe a huge, successful, customer-service company like Starbucks can afford to pay enough people to not have folks waiting substantial amounts of time on the phone. At the very least they could offer to call back so the customer is not chained to the phone. Starbucks is known for their great customer service. Yet their move into mobile apps is thwart with squirrelly technology errors and back to the past phone system.